By John G.
I voted for Obama…twice. Now before you get your pitchforks and torches, would it help if I told you that I really really regret the most recent decision in light of his push for gun control? The truth is, I’m one of those individuals you don’t see or hear much about: I’m in the military (Army Reserves, not pictured above) and own firearms, but I’m also an atheist who votes predominantly Democrat because of my socially liberal views . . .
It’s a fine line to cross because almost all of my peers at my civilian employment are pure Democrats, and they think I am some gun nut, a far-right conservative. And when I have my uniform on during drill weekends, my peers there think I am some tree-hugging hippy who probably got duped by a recruiter.
By either account, the constant opposition and friction can be frustrating, but it has also been enlightening. I can always count on a disagreement or debate, and challenging my beliefs has been a gift in terms of solidifying my positions and arguments. Everyone should look for ways to challenge the way they think, which I’m sure everyone here would agree ought to be done by the gun grabbers.
It was by challenging my beliefs that I eventually came to the light and began supporting Second Amendment rights. As a boy scout I loved going to summer camp, where I got to enjoy the outdoors and shoot a rifle and shotgun. It was all great fun, but it took a little while before I realized firearms were more than toys.
It took even longer before I realized their importance. I debated with my conservative friends, and confided with my liberal ones. Why do they need to carry a pistol or why do they need that “assault weapon”? I was frustrated and appalled. Yes, I was one of them. I was a gun grabber.
Transitioning from gun grabber to Second Amendment supporter was no easy feat. I battled internal demons, thinking I was losing my identity. But, it was through debating one particular conservative friend that I made the final turn. He was passionate, yet logical and concise. He was angry about gun control, but was not angry with me when I harassed his positions. He made me look like the nut.
That was the key: balancing passion with compassion. I use that strategy now to the dismay of my gun-grabbing friends. (Yes, I have gun-grabbing friends; see the point above about challenging your beliefs). By challenging my previous beliefs, I not only found more logic in supporting gun rights, but I also found ways to develop sound arguments and opinions.
I am always looking for ways to grow and improve my positions because that is the best path to enlightenment (and winning arguments). Thinking you are right is wrong. Find ways to challenge your beliefs: watch MSNBC (if you have read this far, I doubt this one would have offended you), read a gun control book like Lethal Logic: Exploding the Myths That Paralyze American Gun Policy (by Dennis Henigan of the Brady Campaign). Or, more simply and probably less painful, discuss gun control openly with friends of alternative opinions. While there will be plenty out there who refuse to have an open mind about gun ownership, at least you can get an alternative view to your own beliefs.
Ironically, my wife is a conservative who opposes gun ownership for people with children (we have a 2 year-old daughter). More on how I am slowly breaking those barriers will be saved for another time. In the meantime, even if you think you are open-minded, get out there and challenge yourself. You might be surprised at how your positions will be more refined and improved, and you might even change someone’s mind. I may still lean Democrat, but hey, we can’t all be perfect.